Boating DUI & DWI
Baton Rouge Boating DWI Attorney
Louisianans love to spend their free time on the water, especially during the warmer months. Many times, spending time on the water in Louisiana means drinking alcoholic beverages, listening to music, and enjoying your loved ones’ company. In order to party safely on the water, it’s always best to have a DD – designated driver – who is also qualified to operate a personal watercraft. If not, intoxicated boat drivers could face a DWI arrest or a DWI conviction. Louisiana law dictates that intoxicated boat drivers could face jail time and large fines. In the worst case scenario, some boat drivers could even lose their driver’s license. If you’re facing a boating DWI arrest or conviction, you need a Baton Rouge boating DWI attorney on your side.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown have extensive knowledge of Louisiana boating laws. We can potentially help you by reducing your charges and penalties or even expunging a DWI charge from your record. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation today.
What is a Boating DWI?
A boating DWI is a crime that occurs when someone operates a commercial or recreational vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Just like driving a car while intoxicated, operating a personal watercraft while intoxicated can result in a major personal injury, wrongful death, and damaged property. Additionally, DWI charges for both cars and boats can come with serious consequences.
If you are facing a DWI arrest or a DWI conviction, it’s crucial to contact a Baton Rouge boating DWI attorney. We can help you by protecting your rights, potentially reducing your penalties, and/or potentially expunging your DWI offense from your criminal record.
Louisiana Boat DWI Laws
The same DUI laws that apply to Louisiana roadways also apply to the waterways. According to Louisiana state law (RS § 14:98), a vessel operator cannot drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. There are serious consequences if a boater drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It is also against state laws for a boat operator or owner to allow someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol to operate the vessel. According to Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries regulations, “It is also illegal for a person who owns or is in charge of any watercraft to authorize or knowingly permit anyone who is intoxicated or under the influence of any narcotic drug, barbiturate, or marijuana to operate that watercraft.” So, even in a case where the boat’s owner or operator has no alcohol in their system, they can still be held responsible for the actions of others in their control. This also extends beyond boats to other motorized watercrafts such as jet skis.
Louisiana Boat DWI Penalties
Consequences can include up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months of imprisonment, or both. If you have prior convictions on your record, you may face enhanced penalties. Additionally, an individual who has been convicted of a boating DWI can face a suspended driver’s license. In the event of an accident, more serious charges and penalties can compound the DWI charge.
Alcohol-Related Boating Accidents in 2020
According to data from the U.S. Coast Guard, 5,265 recreational boating accidents occurred in 2020. 3,191 injuries and 767 deaths occurred due to these boat accidents.
Similarly to fatal car accidents, alcohol plays a huge role in fatal boating accidents as well. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard states that alcohol use ranked as the 7th most common cause of boat accidents. However, alcohol use caused the most deaths (115) in 2020 maritime accidents.
The Effects of Alcohol on a Boat
Drunk boat operators can experience the same mental and physical effects as regular drunk drivers. But – according to the U.S. Coast Guard – many boaters are more likely to become drunk at faster rates than regular drivers. That’s because the conditions on the water can accelerate intoxication. The rocking and vibration of the boat can create more intense feelings of fatigue and disorientation. Meanwhile, sun exposure leads to dehydration which can increase the effects of alcohol.
So all of the typical effects of alcohol are accelerated and made worse:
- Poor judgment
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty balancing
- Swimmy vision
- Reduced depth perception
- Poor focus
- Increased reaction time
- Disturbances in the inner ear which can make it difficult to distinguish up from down if a drunk boater falls into the water
- Overall reckless behavior
All of these physical and mental effects can lead to not only boating accidents, but drownings, maritime law violations, and getting stuck in bad weather as well.
The U.S. Coast Guard also estimates that a boat operator with a BAC higher than 0.10% is at least 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident compared to a sober boat operator.
Can You Get a DWI for Driving a Boat While High?
Yes, you can get a DUI charge for driving a boat while high on marijuana or other controlled dangerous substances. Louisiana law states that a person is considered to be operating a vehicle under the influence if they:
- Are under the influence of alcoholic beverages
- Have a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit of 0.08%
- Are under the influence of any controlled substances listed in Schedules I through V
- Are under the influence of both alcohol and legally obtainable drugs (whether they have a prescription for the drugs or not)
Operating a boat or a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs is just as dangerous as operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol. While being high does feel different than being drunk, the main effects are still in play: poor judgment, lack of coordination, swimmy vision, increased reaction time, difficulty balancing, etc. All of this can lead to a watercraft accident or another dangerous situation.
Possible Defenses for a Boat DWI
Like any DWI case on the roads, there are a handful of defenses that a Baton Rouge boating DWI attorney could potentially use in your favor.
Again, in Louisiana a BAC of 0.08% or more while operating a vessel is enough to be arrested and charged with DWI. However, BAC levels do not always accurately reflect the reality of the situation. Sometimes this equipment can malfunction, leading to inaccurate results. This is why it is vital to your case to have a knowledgeable boating DWI attorney on your side. An experienced boating DWI attorney can examine the evidence, including the breathalyzer analysis used to determine your BAC, to help you build a stronger defense of your situation.
No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop
A law enforcement officer must have a valid reason to stop you on the water before they make a DWI arrest or conviction. If you weren’t operating your boat carelessly or causing any trouble, then a Baton Rouge boating DWI attorney could gather evidence to prove that the officer had no valid reason to stop you.
Call a Baton Rouge Boating DWI Attorney at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown Today
The legal team at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown has extensive experience in handling all sorts of DWI cases, including ones involving a personal watercraft. We can carefully review the facts of your case, protect your legal rights, and help you achieve the best case outcome possible. If you were caught boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speak to our legal team before doing anything else.
Our law firm can also represent victims of recreational boating accidents. If you or a loved one have suffered major injuries and/or death from reckless boating, you have legal options. Our Baton Rouge boat accident attorneys can help you seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and so much more. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free initial consultation today.
Let us review your case at no cost to you. We want to take the time to get to know you and understand your legal goals and objectives.
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